A summer pick of ragwort

What a magical day.

I could never have imagined that tugging up ragwort could be such a wonderful experience.

Let me start by explaining I am a volunteer for Sutton Nature Conservation and I am part of a team that assists with habitat management work on a number of wildlife sites in the London borough of Sutton.

I volunteer on a Thursday and have turned my hand to many tasks since I started volunteering a year or so ago, such as raking, cutting down trees, pruning hedgerows, coppicing and pulling weeds! But nothing has compared to the lovely day I had pulling ragwort.

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Roundshaw Downs

The team’s task for the day was to remove ragwort on Roundshaw Downs, Sutton’s largest wildlife site. Ragwort is a biennial plant which is common in grazing paddocks and areas of unimproved pasture. Although a number of myths circulate about ragwort, the chemicals it contains can lead to liver damage if consumed. As Roundshaw Downs, is grazed, ragwort is pulled annually to minimise the risks associate with eating the living plant or dried pieces, which may find their way into hay that is cut as part of site management.

Imagine walking through a meadow full of beautiful wild flowers – names I have been told many times, but still cannot remember – and seeing a glorious array of colours. Yellow, white, blue, pink. The sun was shining and I was watching the butterflies, blue, brown, golden (again an identification memory loss) fluttering from flower to flower resting for a moment to enjoy the heat of the sun.  Imagine too hearing the bees as they work their magic collecting the pollen.

I was lost in the beauty of the meadow. I could have been Shirley Valentine (without the sand, sea and glass of wine) or Julie Andrews in the sound of music (without the singing, thank goodness). For me it was a magical experience, completely lost in my thoughts and day dreams, only realizing, from time to time, that I need to keep up with the rest of the team to complete the task in hand!

What a wonderful day – one of the best.

For more information about ragwort visit – http://www.ragwort.org.uk

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